Kim Il-sung Consolidates Power

We are all born mad.

Some remain so.

                            Samuel Beckett

Kim Il-sung had led his country into the bloody disaster of the Korean War that had left a quarter of his country’s population dead. When the war ended, his response was twofold. First, he sought scapegoats to blame for his failure; second he distorted reality and proclaimed that North Korea had won a great victory by repelling the U.S. and South Korean aggressors who, he falsely claimed, had started the war.      Continue reading

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Eric Hoffer and the Dangers of Group Psychology

‘Mass movements can rise and spread without belief in a God, but never without belief in a devil.’

For students of the human condition, Eric Hoffer is an indispensible guide. A self-educated dock labourer, Hoffer’s book ‘The True Believer’ is regarded as a classic of political psychology.

This blog post outlines Hoffer’s views on the power of mass movements, including his explanation as to why many ordinary people are willing to give up everything to sacrifice themselves to a ‘greater’ cause – even when that cause involves the slaughter of millions.

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Was Japanese Emperor Hirohito a Psychopath? Part 2

This blog, the second of two, seeks to answer the question ‘Was Hirohito a psychopath?’ This second post examines Hirohito’s actions from his decision to escalate Japan’s war against China in 1937 to Japan’s surrender in the wake of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.        Continue reading

Was Japanese Emperor Hirohito a Psychopath? Part 1

With the twenty fifth anniversary of the death of Emperor Hirohito approaching, the Japanese government is preparing to unveil a 61-volume official biography of the Emperor, which a team of scholars has been labouring on since shortly after his death.

It is unlikely that this biography will answer the question, ‘Was Hirohito, who presided over the expansion of the Japanese empire and led his nation into an East Asian war that cost over 120 million lives, a psychopath?’

This blog, the first of two, seeks to address that question. This first post examines Hirohito’s actions in the period up until the outbreak of war with China in 1937, and seeks to determine whether or not he should rank alongside Mao, Hitler and Stalin as one the twentieth century’s greatest mass murderers.    Continue reading

Seven Steps to Islamic State (IS) Part 1

The rise of Islamic State (IS) and its seizure of large parts of Iraq and Syria have caused alarm in the West and across the Middle East. Harrowing images of mass killings and beheadings of soldiers and journalists have sparked calls for renewed U.S. intervention in the region.  Alarming as it is, Islamic State has not risen in a vacuum. In fact IS can be seen as an outcome of thirty five years of continual warfare across the Middle East. This post, the first of three, looks at those thirty five years of conflict and the seven steps that have led to the emergence of ISIS.    Continue reading

DR Congo – Understanding Africa’s Largest War 2

This is the second post in a series of three. Read the first post here.

The Second Congo War

President Laurent Kabila would only preside over the Congo for fifteen months before war began again. The trigger this time was Kabila’s decision to turn on the Rwandans who had put him in power.

In early 1998, Kabila began to recruit Rwanda Hutu – many of whom had been responsible for the Rwandan genocide – into the Congolese army. He sacked the Rwandan officer who had been the commander of the Congolese military and asked all Rwandan troops to leave the country.     Continue reading

The Psychology of Evil – Mao’s Famine

The famine which occurred in China during the Great Leap Forward was perhaps the greatest crime in history. Between 1958 and 1962 at least 45 million people died[1]. This figure is much higher than the number killed in World War One. The real death toll could be higher, and may even exceed the number killed during World War Two.

Calling it a famine muddies the picture of what actually happened. Unlike during a natural famine, disease was remarkably absent as a cause of death. The reason is both easy to comprehend and terrifying to grasp.     Continue reading